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Medicaid Cuts Mean Less Independence for People with Disabilities

The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act on Thursday. (Lawrence Jackson/whitehouse.gov)
The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act on Thursday. (Lawrence Jackson/whitehouse.gov)
March 22, 2017

NEW YORK – New York's advocates for people with disabilities say proposed cuts to Medicaid would force many of them into institutional care. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce Medicaid by $880 billion over ten years, eliminate coverage for some 14 million people, and place a cap on expenditures for those still in the program.

Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY), calls it "a giant step backward" for those for whom Medicaid has been a lifeline.

"We're going to lose functioning that we've gained," she said. "More of us won't be able to keep the equipment that we need for mobility, or to hear or to see, and maintain our independence."

Supporters of the GOP plan say it would give the states more flexibility to design programs that better serve their own lower-income populations.

But Dooha points out that, for a child with severe disabilities whose medical expenses exceed the per-capita cap, the results would be catastrophic.

"You end up living your childhood in an institution where you seldom see the people who love you, where you are forced to give up any possible decision in your life," she explained.

Dooha says Independent Living Centers across the state are reaching out today to deliver a simple message to federal lawmakers.

"Medicaid and health coverage are the cornerstone of our progress, and some of us simply will not survive its loss," added Dooha.

The House is scheduled to vote on its bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY